European Parliament adopts New European Agenda for Culture
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MEP Francis Zammit Dimech , has said, “our role as politicians is to boost the cultural sector through concrete policies and not through political interference. The new European Agenda for Culture is an opportunity for the Maltese cultural sector as their proposals have been fully endorsed.”
The MEP made these remarks after the European Parliament adopted the new European Agenda for Culture. Zammit Dimech was the EPP Group Rapporteur on the file.
Zammit Dimech met several stakeholders in Malta and Brussels over the past weeks, when he pushed forward their proposals.
His proposals included to increase funding for festivals, to increase accessibility of the Creative Europe programme in favour of small organisations such as band clubs, to stimulate renewed public interest in culture through collaboration between professionals, to avoid excessive or double taxation for artists and to give due attention in terms of funding to areas which are not given enough attention such as poetry.
Zammit Dimech hit back at the situation in Malta while addressing the European Parliament in Strasbourg, “culture should empower citizens and not used to denigrate activists, silence people, prohibit right to protest or demean murdered journalists.”
The MEP added “I believe in a thriving cultural sector because culture is a ‘soft power’ that enables and empowers its citizens to be responsible leaders of society, having integrity, enthusiasm and empathy. Unfortunately this is not what the government of Malta believes.”
He continued by saying, “now our government and officials are using culture and heritage as an excuse to denigrate and attempt to erase the memory of investigative journalist Daphne Caruana Galizia. Specifically tributes at her memorial in Valletta have been repeatedly torn down on the pretext that the monument and the surrounding area were being restored. This is the antithesis of what culture is all about.”
Zammit Dimech also criticised the way the cultural sector was being politicised in Malta not only by the appointment of political persons in cultural posts but also through political interference on cultural decisions.
The MEP also recalled how the NAO had outlined that “the Arts Council Financial statement were not finalised and issued €2.1 million in direct orders.” He said that all this was damaging for the cultural sector in Malta.
Zammit Dimech, a former Culture Minister, said that as Minister he had taken several initiatives to boost the cultural sector in Malta including the opening of St. James Cavalier – Malta’s national Centre for Creativity and the transformation of Malta’s orchestra from a chamber one to a Philharmonic one.
“These are the measures which artists expect from politicians and not interference and politicisation of the cultural and creative sectors,” he said.
Photograph: EPP Group